Last week, the "Star Wars" boy, Max Page, who played Darth Vader in the Superbowl commercial for Volkswagen last year, had open heart surgery. It was to correct a congenital heart defect, which was a pulmonary valve to be replaced. The open heart surgery was the first for him at his tender age of 7, an age between both of my girls. The surgery was to create a valve in his heart so it could pump more efficiently from the lungs, so he could have more energy and have an active life. The latest report earlier this week said that he is recovering very well from the surgery, and won't have another invasive surgery when it has to be repaired it in the next 15 years. Given that his condition was detected earlier than mine, I am certain that he will recover quickly and will get back to playing, which is what all children should be doing.
My condition, an atrialventricular canal defect, which has similar side effects as the pulmonary valve replacement, was okay in my youth. But since there was a hole, I could not give a full "get up and go" in my activities. I could not run with endurance. I was afraid to try out for teams that would make me play for extented amount of time like basketball or track. I had thought it was because I just didn't have "it." With my diagnosis when I was 31, I finally had my answer. I had my open heart surgery when I was 32 and 2 1/2 years later I ran my first 5k, and 5 years from my surgery date I ran my first marathon. I never looked back to living an inactive life again.
So Max, when you grow up, I want to you to know that you can do anything. You can jump, skip and run with endurance. You can go the distance, whichever distance you want to go. And when you are recovered and ready, you can do those 5k's and marathons in the years to come. We will all be there cheering you on!